Land of Misheard Lyrics

OK Peeps,

I’d like you to finish the next line of this song for me.

Say say oh play mate
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree

OK, what’s the next line?

Now don’t go cheating and look it up on the internet. That’s just not fair.

I’m bring this up because of my recent history. I’ve been pulling out my very, very, limited repertoire of children’s songs to sing to Zara. The biggest discovery so far? My repertoire of French songs is much better than the English ones. I guess that is the benefit of my Lycée Français education. However, Zara is not so thrilled with my renditions of Lundi Matin, Au Clair De La Lune, or the truly cruel Alouette (Come on, a children’s song about dismembering a little bird? Something’s just not right about that!)

Instead she prefers Miss Mary Mack with my additional verse from childhood about Mary going upstairs and bumping her head on a piece of cornbread, bread, bread! I tried Do Your Ears Hang Low but could not remember the words for the life of me. I only remember the beginning of Down, Down, Baby, Down By The Rollercoaster. But my version diverges off into something about Grandma being sick in bed, calling the doctor and the doctor saying that she needed to be kicked. (WTF?) I cannot find any version online that includes kicking Grandma. I think some sociopathic older kids in New York taught me this version.

Old standards like the ABC song (especially the QRS part) and Itsy Bitsy Spider are always a hit with Zizi. But recently I pulled Say, Say, Oh Playmate out of the cobwebs. I thought I was pretty solid on the lyrics to that song. So I was singing:

Say say oh play mate
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree

Slide down my rainbow
Slide down my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more, forever more!

But I have to say that having those two slide downs jangled a bit with me. Maybe you were supposed to climb down my cellar door. Whoever wrote this song wouldn’t put two slide lines right next to each other, would s/he?

So I went to Kididdles and found the actual words to Say Say Oh Play Mate.

Say, say, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree

Shout down my rain barrel
Slide down my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more more more more more

Say, say, oh playmate
I cannot play with you
My dolly’s got the flu
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo

Ain’t got no rain barrel
Ain’t got no cellar door
But we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more more more more more

Now if you are anything like me, you are saying to yourself, what the hell is shouting down a rain barrel? I know what a rain barrel is. I know what shouting is. But how or why one would want to put the two together I do not understand. And what happened to my rainbow?! I know that there was something about sliding down a rainbow in that song. How did I get that so terribly wrong?

This is spooking me a bit. I’ve got Miss Mary Mack bumping her head on cornbread after her trip to the elephant who jumped over the fence. Then I’ve got some addition to Down, Down Baby that includes Grandma getting a big, fat kick. And now I’m substituting sliding down rainbows for shouting down rain barrels (and I still don’t know what that is). Is the dementia of the over 40 mind starting up?

Happily Kididdles showed me that if I was demented, I wasn’t demented alone. There was an alternative version of Say, Say Oh Playmate that did mention sliding down rainbows:

Say, say, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree

Slide down my rainbow
Into my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more, 1-2-3-4

It was a rainy day,
She couldn’t come out and play
With tearful eyes, she breathed a sigh
And I could hear her say:

Say, say, oh playmate
I cannot play with you
My dolly’s got the flu
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo

Ain’t got no rainbow
Ain’t got no cellar door
But we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more, 1-2-3-4

I don’t know anything about the 1-2-3-4 part or how to get my head around the mechanics of sliding down a rainbow into a cellar door (OUCH!), but at least I had not imagined the bit about sliding and rainbows. Sure it isn’t the official authored version of the song, but sliding down a rainbow makes more sense to me than shouting down a rain barrel.

Crap. Maybe I should just go back to Alouette and decapitating the damn lark. I’m sure the song with grow on Zizi in time.

Zara 21 months

Published by: teendoc on February 11th, 2009 | Filed under funny stuff, music, parenting

43 Responses to “Land of Misheard Lyrics”

  1. OmegaMom Says:

    I always did “slide down my rainbow into my cellar door”; have done it for years. For what it’s worth!

    OmegaMoms last blog post..25 Things

  2. Heather Says:

    We always sang the ‘rainbow/into my cellar door’ version, too. Maybe it’s partly regional?

    Heathers last blog post..All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

  3. Thorn Says:

    Everyone around me said “rainbow” but I always strongly believed “rain barrel” was right even though sliding down a barrel made no sense to me. (I was a stubborn and bitter child.)

    Our version followed with “right to my cellar door,” I think. I never liked the song, though, because it didn’t make sense. We also ended with “forever more, more, shut the door!” which at least brings the door back into it but still doesn’t make it work much better.

    Thorns last blog post..something new: me!

  4. Yolanda Says:

    We finished it “slide down my rainbow into my cellar door” which made perfect sense because you’d obviously need a cellar to store all of the apples from your apple tree 🙂

    As an army brat I found that different songs had different words depending on where we lived. From Texas to North Carolina to Connecticut I just learned to go along with whatever the friends of the moment sang.

  5. teendoc Says:

    But sliding into a cellar door would hurt!

  6. Flicka Says:

    Am I the only kids who sang “slide down my toilet bowl” with her friends and then giggled like crazy? Just me? Okay.

    I knew the original lyrics once but all these years later what I remember is sitting at the top of an actual slide with my childhood friend on a bright sunny day, both of us in bathing suits, giggling over “slide down my toilet bowl.” And I just can’t remember anything else!

    Flickas last blog post..More insurance fun! This time with a happier ending.

  7. teendoc Says:

    Man, everyone has these interesting variations. Toilet bowl? 🙂

  8. Lynn Says:

    I sing those songs to my two year old niece “sweetie face”.
    And it has always been slide down my rainbow into my cellar door.
    But also I have heard slightly different versions depending on where I was
    in another part of the country. Liana since you brought up childhood songs,
    do you rememer a song called: “Did you feed my cow?”. It is from my childhood when
    I was 3 or 4? That is over 40 years ago and I still remember the words almost exactly and the tune.
    I thought that I was nuts for years until I searched for it on the internet and found that it was a real
    song and that the music and lyrics that ran through my head were correct. Look that one
    up for Zara and see if she likes it.

  9. teendoc Says:

    Girl, I’m from the city! I know nothing of cows! Did you look up the song on Kididdles?

  10. Lynn Says:

    No Liana I just googles it or yahooed it. And found the lyrics and a snippet file of the song. I felt
    vindicated. It is a sing and response song. “Did you feed my cow?” Yes Ma’am. I still love it even
    41 years later. OK, you may tell me to grow up now.

  11. kellie Says:

    Never heard that song. But I’ve misheard lots of lyrics!

    S Loves the “wheels on teh bus” song. Maybe try that one?
    He also likes singing Twinkle Twinkle. ABC’s, Little TeaPot, and Itsy bitsy spider.

    Personally I think you should find a song about goldfish 😉 LOL

    kellies last blog post..Halloween

  12. teendoc Says:

    We will stop this goldfish baiting right now! ;-o

  13. Lisa E. Says:

    Hi, I’ve read your blog for years (since my days on FF years ago but never commented before….but I LOVE your blog! Your writing is always entertaining and often educational. 🙂

    I always sang either rainbow OR rain barrel. As far as shouting into a rain barrel, I assume it’s for the sort of anti-echo effect you’d get as you yell into a contained space? I guess we’re weird but my brother and I used to say things into buckets full of water, etc…on my grandma’s farm when we were little. lol

    I also sang the “extra” verses to this song about having an enemy-did you ever sing those?
    See see my enemy,
    come out and fight with me
    and bring your pistols three

    Slide down my broken rainbow
    into my dungeon door
    and we’ll be awful enemies
    forever more more more more more……

    Talk about twisted! 😀

  14. teendoc Says:

    Hey Lisa,

    Thanks for coming out of lurkdom and commenting!

    Maybe if you shout into an empty rain barrel, you get some echoing that is fun? Hmmm…

    I didn’t know your extra verses, but I have a vague memory of verses of that song that have something to do with sex! 🙂

  15. Adrienne Says:

    Hmm….I suspect the version I sang as a child was the most accurate.

    Say say oh playmate
    Come out and play with me
    And bring your dollies three
    Climb up my apple tree
    Slide down my rain spout
    Into my cellar door
    We will be jolly friends
    Forever more one two three four!

    (There are no rainbows going from apple trees into cellar doors unless you’re mixing up the song with Wizard of Oz themes ROTFLMBO)

  16. Adrienne Says:

    Oh yes, Down Down the Rollercoaster goes:

    Down down the rollercoaster
    Sweet baby Sweet baby I’ll never let you go
    Jimmy jimmy coco pop jimmy jimmy pop
    Jimmy jimmy coco pop jimmy jimmy pop
    Grandma Grandma
    Sick in bed
    Called the doctor and the doctor said
    Lets hear the sound of the head
    Ding dong !(while tilting head left then right)
    Let’s hear the sound of the hands
    (you clap clap)
    Let’s hear the sound of the hot dog
    Hot dog! (with hands on hips and sorta snake your torso Lol)
    Let’s hear the sound of the feet!
    Stomp! Stomp! (while stomping feet twice)

    Put it all together and what do you get?
    Ding Dong!
    (Clap! Clap!)
    Hot dog!
    (Stomp! Stomp!)

    Put it all backwards and what do you get?
    (Stomp! Stomp!)
    Hot dog!
    (Clap! Clap!)
    Ding dong!

  17. Tfox Says:

    We used to sing this as:

    Down, down baby
    Down by the roller coaster
    Sweet sweet baby
    Never wanna let you go
    Shimmy shimmy coco pop shimmy shimmy pow
    Shimmy shimmy coco pop shimmy shimmy pow
    I like coffee I like tea
    I like a little boy, he likes me
    Little boy little boy don’t you cry
    I gotta another boy on my mind!

    So I’m pretty sure we were just mixing songs

  18. Michele Says:

    We sang “Slide down my rainspout onto my cellar door.” This always made perfect sense to me b/c our rainspout was right next to the cellar door.

    I haven’t thought of these songs in YEARS! Having a boy takes me away from some of the more “girl” oriented songs. Thanks for helping me remember them!

  19. Lisa Yannucci Says:

    I’ve been collecting childrens songs from around the world for over 10 years on my Mama Lisa’s World site. I’ve realized in that time that many songs have many versions. Viva la difference!

    Re. Alouette – I used to think the song was gross. One day I was emailing with my colleague in France. She mentioned something about soup with bird in it. It made me think of Alouette. Perhaps when times were rough they put small birds in soup for nutritional reasons. They may have been plucking the feathers to make a soup. (FYI this song is believed to be from French Canada.)

    So Alouette may not be so bad after all!


    Mama Lisa

    Lisa Yannuccis last blog post..Abe Lincoln the Boy

  20. Slim Says:

    Who wants to slide into a cellar door? I mean, I might have done that, but I’m a klutz.

    Anyway, you shout down the rain barrel for the echo, because loud = fun

    You slide down the cellar door as in one of those old cellar doors you enter from the outside.

    Like a hatch, you know? Shaped like an extra wide, triangular door stop?

    We sang a lot of “Going to the Zoo,” at least until our son discovered Fats Waller.

  21. Katsmom Says:

    I’ve been thinking about getting a rain barrel to water my garden…so this song came to mind. My mother loved to sing, and taught me all kinds of children’s songs when I was young…we’d sing together as we cleaned house! (made the chore bearable!) Thank you for finding the lyrics and bringing back some very happy memories.

  22. Dacia Says:

    I have always done “slide down my rain barrel, in through the cellar door”, though as I got older I heard “slide down my rainbow in through the cellar door”. *Into* just never made sense to me. I like “in through” better.

  23. Jaime Says:

    I have wonderered these Lryics for years. My mom said it was “Slide down my Rain Barrel”, but who has a rain barrel these days, so i stayed with my “rainbow” this it what i sing to my daughters…

    (insert child’s name) Come out and play with me
    And bring your dollies three
    Climb up my apple tree

    Slide down my rainbow
    Into my cellar door

    And we’ll be jolly friends
    Forever more

    ? Thank You!

  24. Earlene Says:

    I remeber this song as a kid and it was slide down my rainbarrel into my cellar door,rainbarrel which is that a barell thats holds rain kids having fun in the rain it sounds like

  25. Jim Says:

    I think the song goes:’ yell down my rain barrel, slide down my celler door’
    On a farm, you must have a rain barrel to catch rain water running off the house when it rains. This was used for all sorts of things so as not to use up the very valuable(limited) well water. If you yell, into it when it is almost empty, you get a very strange reverberating echo sound which entertains farm kids for hours. We called it Mr. Troll. “Hellooooo Mister Trollllllllllll. Great fun! Better than drawing in the dust on the porch.
    As to the celler door. Think Wizzard of Ozz. The long slanting door covering the hole in the ground. Every farm house had one, to allow you to get into the celler from the outside. Since it was on an incline, sloping down away from the house, it was great fun to slide down! After a while it became smooth as glass (little butts are smooth). We used cardboard or a ‘gunnie’ sack from the feed store to protect our tender parts. Another fun thing was to climb and swing on the huge rope hanging from the old oak tree out back. Oh…..Those days are gone forever!!!!!!

  26. Gramma Oz Says:

    Geeez, I hate to show my age here, I’m not THAT old, am I? My Grandma, who lived next door in our small town, had a rain barrel by her kitchen door. The rain came down the rain spout to fill the rain barrel, and in it she collected precious rain water, which she used only for washing or watering special things — such as washing her granddaughters’ long black hair. I have never had such shiny hair since! And yes, when the water level got low, it was fun to shout into the rain barrel, ‘cuz it made cool reverberating echoing water sounds. We were not allowed to slide down the cellar door, and yes it looked liked the one in the Wizard of Oz movie. For one thing, our bottoms would have been full of splinters — but I suppose you could sing a song about doing it (and even as a small kid, I wondered about how those kids who slid down cellar doors kept the splinters out of their britches). Nor did the rain barrel or the rain spout lead into the cellar door, because the last thing you wanted was water in the cellar. The cellar was where the sacks and baskets of potatoes and apples were kept cool and dry all winter (these had, of course, come from the orchards and gardens) — and jams and jellies and home-canned fruit were kept all winter, along with other treats like cinnamon spiced pickled peaches (my favorite!), which we saved for Thanksgiving, and apple butter better than anything that ever came out of a store. And bread-and-butter pickles, yum! Thanks for helping me re- learn enough of the song to come up with a version to sing to my grandkids, which will be accurate to my memories. And I hope that the way our great-grandparents lived is kept preserved in some of these songs, which are the true folk-songs of our country. Great job, thanks !!!

  27. Pepper Says:

    if you can find recordings by Ella Jenkins, you can hear a wonderful version of “Did you feed my cow.” she also has a nice version of Miss Mary Mack, and one of my favorite chants for Hide and Seek, “Who all is Hid”. I grew up in west texas where there were very few cellars, so we slid down the rainbow and through the play-room door.

    I have taught music to children for 25 years and still love all the old chants, rhymes and game songs. (even if it does mean plucking the feathers off the bird)

  28. Callimachus Says:

    FWIW, and I’m way late to this, I always remembered it as “slide down my cellar door,” too, and my 3-year-old daughter actually did used to make a fun game out of sliding down our (inner city) cellar door. At least, after we replaced the old wooden one with a metal one.

    But I also remember the previous line as “climb up my rainspout.”

    I’m pretty sure I know this song only from childhood viewings of “Captain Kangaroo.” Perhaps he had an altered version.

  29. Adrienne Says:

    i used “slide down my rain spout into my cellar door’
    funny to find this blog, guess i am not the only one trying to recall lyrics for my baby girl.

  30. Rocky B Says:

    The song “Say, Say, Playmate” is actually a simplified adaption of a late 1800’s children’s song with a more complex original melody. Last year I heard the song sung by a folk singer & found copies of part of the sheet music somewhere online:

    “I Don’t Want to Play in Your Yard (Playmate/Two Little Maids)”
    Written By: Philip Wingate
    Music By: H. W. Petrie

    Which went:

    Once there lived side by side, two little maids,
    Used to dress just alike, hair down in braids,
    Blue ging’am pinafores, stockings of red,
    Little sun bonnets tied on each pretty head.

    When school was over secrets they’d tell,
    Whispering arm in arm, down by the well,
    One day a quarrel came, hot tears were shed:
    “You can’t play in our yard,” but the other said:

    I don’t want to play in your yard,
    I don’t like you anymore,
    You’ll be sorry when you see me,
    Sliding down our cellar door,
    You can’t holler down our rainbarrel,
    You can’t climb our apple tree,
    I don’t want to play in your yard,
    If you won’t be good to me.

    Next day two little maids each other miss,
    Quarrels are soon made up, sealed with a kiss,
    Then hand in hand again, happy they go.
    Friends all through life to be, they love each other so.

    Soon school days pass away, sorrows and bliss
    but love remembers yet, quarrels and kiss,
    In sweet dreams of childhood, we hear the cry:
    “You can’t play in our yard,” and the old reply:

    I don’t want to play in your yard,
    I don’t like you anymore,
    You’ll be sorry when you see me,
    Sliding down our cellar door,
    You can’t holler down our rainbarrel,
    You can’t climb our apple tree,
    I don’t want to play in your yard,
    If you won’t be good to me.
    (Playmate; Girl’s Version)

    See, see my playmate,
    Come out and play with me
    And bring your dollies three
    Climb up my apple tree
    Holler down my rain barrel
    Slide down my cellar door
    And we’ll be jolly friends
    Forever evermore.

    Oh no my playmate
    I can’t come play with you
    My dollies have the flu
    Boo hoo boo hoo
    Can’t holler down rain barrels
    Or slide down a cellar door
    But we’ll be jolly friends
    Forever evermore.

    Say, say, my playmate
    Don’t come and play with me
    Don’t bring your dollies three
    Cut down my apple tree
    Fall off my rainbow,
    Into my cellar door
    And we’ll be enemies
    Forever evermore.
    (Alternate Boy’s Version, created by an unknown later author using the “Playmates” portion of the melody.)

    Say, say my enemy.
    Come out and fight with me.
    And bring your bulldogs three.
    Climb up my sticker tree.
    Slide down my lightning.
    Into my dungeon door
    And we’ll be jolly enemies
    Forever evermore.

    Say say old enemy
    Come out and fight with me
    And bring your bb gun
    And we’ll have lots of fun
    I’ll scratch your eyes out
    And make you bleed to death
    And we’ll be jolly enemies
    Forever evermore.

    Oh little enemy,
    I cannot fight with you,
    My mommy said not too
    Boo hoo hoo hoo
    I can’t scratch your eyes out
    And make you bleed to death
    But we’ll be jolly enemies
    Forever evermore.

    There are even a couple of other slightly different versions of this song. And I admit, when I passed my teen years, I also wondered if “Climbing an tree, hollering into a rain barrel, & sliding down a cellar door” might not be euphamisms for a boy & girl… ahem… “playing doctor”. Yet once I discovered the original was about “Two Little Maids”, reconsidered it with the complete lyrics, I discarded the alternate theory.

    The point is, children do not view nursery rimes and tales looking for possible sexual or otherwise unwholesum or immoral aspects. But a seasoned adult mind will often see what it wants to see even by stretching the envelope if need be. The story of “wolf” having desires for Red Riding Hood’s “Goodies.” Took on a whole new meaning in the early 1900’s Jazz age when the term “Wolf” began to be used for promiscuous males (today we would call them “Players”) who might go after one innocent female conquest after another.

    Sure there were some songs and tales of a dark nature. A child today couldn’t comprehend that “Ring around the rosie,” was a song about people dying during the Bubonic (Dark) Plague. And Grimm Fairy Tales certainly earned the title “Grim” for tales that often included death or misery. Children’s stories were a way to drum “moral” values (from certain points of view), into a child’s head.

    All in all, I wouldn’t prevent her from hearing a song merely because you have a suspicion it might have a totally different hidden message within the lyrics. Particularly if it’s one in common use she might hear at daycare, in kindergarden, or during play from another child. Otherwise You’re giving yourself stress & possible ulcers. It would be another story if it was blatantly offensive, but just yesterday I heard about a group of women, whom had concocted some theory that the little lamb that Mary had, was an enslavened creature which symbolized BSDM, & they went to raise Hell with a Kindergarten teacher for singing it with her students.

    Come on folks, it’s the lack of common sense of our present population we should be worried about, not “assuming” (Which makes an “ASS” out of “U” & “ME”) that most writers of songs & stories from over a century ago were intentionally trying to warp today’s children’s minds.

  31. Rocky B Says:

    Oops, I meant to say “Bubonic (Black) Plague”. It was given the name “Black Plague” from the dark markings that alway appeared on the corpses; dark rings surrounding small inflamed red wounds. Hence the term “Ring around the rosie”. When infected rats died, their fleas would seek out other hosts, transmitting the disease.

    BTW; It might surprise you to know that Nostradamus first gained fame not for his prophecies, but as a doctor caring for those infected with “The Plague. Where other doctors failed with bleedings & other obscure treatments, often at the cost of their own lives from being exposed to the disease, Nostradamus had some success treating his patients with pills he made from rose petals. Unfortunately, for him, his own wife & child contracted & died from the same disease.

  32. teendoc Says:

    Thank you for your detailed comment. I wrote this post so long ago that I’m at a loss as to where I said that I was offended by the songs or was searching for hidden meaning in them. Could you clarify? Thank you.

  33. Leanne Says:

    My grandmother always sang it to me as “LOOK down my rain barrel, SLIDE down my cellar door”…
    Whether it’s that or not…i will continue to sing it that way to my future children.

  34. Lisa Says:

    We always sang:

    Hollar down my rain barrel
    slide down my cellar door

    Now, think about it. The song was written back in the late 1800’s. Kids back then didn’t have a whole lot of toys to play with. Hollaring into an empty rain barrel and listening to the echo of your own voice probably was pretty entertaining for a kid under the age of 10 back then. Sliding down the cellar door probably was pretty rough on the bum, but if it was all that was available… 8 )

  35. Elle Says:

    Well, I lived in a New England neighborhood of tenement houses built from the 1860s to 1920s, and most had sloping cellar doors which were great to slide down. And that’s how we sang the song.

  36. Mary Says:

    The Song was written by Kay Kyser.
    the Lyrics are as follows:

    Playmate come out and play with me
    And bring your dollies three,
    Climb up my apple tree,
    Look down my rain barrel,
    Slide down my cellar door,
    And we’ll be Jolly friends for ever more.

    She couldn’t come out to play,
    It was a sunny day
    With tearful eye, she breathed a sigh
    And I could hear her say,

    I’m sorry, playmate,
    I cannot play with you
    My dollies have the flu,
    Ain’t got no rain barrel,
    Ain’t got no cellar door
    But we’ll be jolly friends for ever more.

  37. Paul Says:

    I remember rain barrel and slid down my cellar door all possible things not the frantically in the alternate version
    Thanks for refreshing my memory on som of the words I forgot

    I remember sliding down a cellar door

  38. Susan T Says:

    Slide down my rainbow, Into my cellar door implies to me that the door is open. No ouch about it.
    I just wonder about why the cellar? Isn’t that creepy? Will they be locked in the cellar “forevermore”?

  39. Tamla Says:

    Oh, Jolly playmate. Come out and play with me, and bring your dollies three, climb up my apple tree. Holler down my rain barbell, slide down my cellar door, and we’ll be jolly friends forevermore.
    It was a rainy day, and she couldn’t come out to play so, I called her on the phone, just to hear my playmate say…
    Oh, jolly playmate, I cannot play with you, my dolly’s got the flu, and that makes me so blue. Ain’t got no rain barrel, ain’t got no cellar door but, we’ll be jolly friends forevermore.
    – my mom had this in a very old book when I was growing up and I’m old. Hollering into a rain barrel caused a variety of voice distortions depending on the volume of rain… Just a silly thing to do like talking into a fan..

  40. Mrs. White Says:

    The version I learned in NW New York growing up was:
    Say say my playmate (but my grandmother said she learned it as Say little playmate)
    Will you come play with me? (again G’ma sang Won’t)
    Please bring your dollies three.
    Climb up my apple tree.
    Slide down our rain barrel
    Into the cellar door
    And we’ll be jolly friends
    Forevermore, but shut the door.

    My grandmother (who would be around 109 this year if she were still with us) said kids back then went to one room school houses, came home, and worked with mom inside (girls), or outside with dad (boys). They played for two hours outside, every day. Some of the outside games were taking old wooden barrels (Google images of old fashioned rain barrels for a picture), (used to collect rain water because at the time, dug wells were seldom deep enough and would dry up often) and one kid would lay it down and crawl inside, while their sibling or friend rolled them down a hill. The only thing stopping them would be a house, cellar, barn, etc. For fear of breaking the barrel, they usually did it on a side where ma/pa couldn’t see, (i.e., cellar side – no windows on that side) which meant no immediate punishment. Then, they’d roll the barrel back up and the next one would go. Occasionally, the metal ring would get loose and pop off the barrel, so then they would put the barrel away, and play with the metal ring by standing it on edge, and try to keep it upright and rolling it by only hitting it with a stick. ( Google antique rolling hoop to see a picture.) Anyway, that’s the reason for the first verse of the song.
    Second verse:
    I’m sorry playmate (but my grandmother said she learned it as Say little playmate again)
    I can not play with you.
    My dollies (oh yeah, and “dollies” meant younger siblings…not actual childhood dolls) have the flu!
    Boo-hoo-hoo Boo-hoo-hoo (crying because her little bro/sis is sick and mom thinks it’s contageous (duh – it is) but now no one gets to play)
    There’ll be no rain barrel
    Hitting your cellar door.
    But we’ll be jolly friends,
    Forever more!

    My grandmother said her mom sang it to her, so it’s at least 100+ year old song. 🙂 Hope this helps clear up some stuff.

  41. bratfemme Says:

    At 46 years old, I am just finding out what the name of this song is! My mom’s name was Cecilia; usually Cece for short (prounounced “ceece” or “ceecee”). So naturally, our family’s version has always been “CeCe Oh Playmate”, lol.
    I always thought it was cool that there was a song with Mom’s name – and as we’re on the 3rd generation of this version, we’re gonna keep it!

  42. Alicia Says:

    My grandmother who was born in about 1869 sang this song to me when I was a child. Shout or holler down my rain barrel are words I remember. Kids shouted down a rain barrel to hear their voices echo. It sounded ‘cool’. Granted, today, this would not amuse most kids. It is similar to my sister and I liking to talk into the small fans my parents had. it made our voices sound funny. Kids today still like to inhale the air from helium balloons so they can talk with squeaky voices. And yes, kids would slide down their cellar doors, just like they slid down banisters. There were no play sets, No outdoor jungle gyms. You had to use what you found.

  43. Penni Kimmel Says:

    And “rainbow” doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Rain barrels, convenient ways to collect free washing and drinking water in the “olden” days (that’s pioneer days on up) — and still is on some ranches in Colorado that I know of — were great fun to shout down (or “holler” down, which is the word a learned from everyone (not just my parents — they were born in 1905, me in 1940) which you sang fast enough to fit: I would bet that the perfectly scanning “shout” was added in the “modern” days of the 20s and during The War when rigid feeding schedules were also in vogue. Then the song pretty much got lost.

    You stood on something(s) high enough to get you beyond the top of the barrel, covered the top of it with as much of your head and small body as you could without falling in, and yelled “hello hello, anybody home?” or something of the kind and listened to the boom-booming bass voice coming back at you. As much fun as yodeling for an echo from the mountaintop and much easier to get to. Two could play too, booming back at one another like a couple of silly grownups. The trick was to get the heavy cover off first — I’m not sure how that was managed though I remember the weight of it when it was on the ground — make sure that the empty barrel didn’t tip over. You had to slide the lid most of the way off anyway to see if it had any water in it. The more water, the less “booom.” And of course, if you couldn’t get the lid back on, you were in trouble, empty or not. So much for rain barrels.

    Cellar doors never had splinters! But they were excellent, if short, sliding ponds. (“Sliding pond” or “pon”– now there’s a phrase that makes no sense! — tells you I’m originally from the metro New York-New Jersey area; “sliding board” in Philly) [I did look it up, it apparently derives from the Dutch term glijd-baene, literally ‘glide-road,’ with baene pronounced more like the German bahn in autobahn, thus sliding bahn/pon turning into “pond” because pon wasn’t a word. Whew! I’m satisfied. Glad to get that out of the way. I will find out if you take HTML signs when I post this.] Anyway, they tended to be thickly painted and sometimes slippery with a kind of waterproofing which was great for sliding down once you reached the top, but very hard to crawl up. Of course, bigger or more adventurous kids walked up. Very very fast.

    [How I found this blog: There is a recent showing of “The Bad Seed” which I’d seen at 15, that I was discussing with a local reviewer. I happened to tell her that the backyard scenes reminded me of mine, using the phrases from the song. She didn’t know the terms, had never heard the song and, since it wasn’t going to help her out with the review, went away and had probably forgotten what I’d said before she had finished turning around. But the verse haunted me (I’d completely forgotten the second one), so I asked Google and it brought me to The Land of Misheard Lyrics. Thank you very much.

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